A/N: Sexual situations. Not safe for work or young children.
It was just past midnight when Selene and her friends arrived in Riften. She accompanied the others to the Ragged Flagon, figuring Brynjolf would still be there, but Vekel said he’d gone home. She left the tavern and made her way out of the Ratway and through town. She was cold, tired and grungy, and her muscles were complaining with every step, begging her to get some rest. But more than anything, she wanted to see her husband. Outside Honeyside, she nodded to a guard, then unlocked the door and let herself in. The fire had been banked and the house was warm, a welcome relief from the frigid night air.
Brynjolf was in bed, snoring softly. He wore only a pair of tan breeches, and his feet were tangled up in the covers. The sight of him lying there like that, his red hair shimmering in the firelight, looking almost innocent with his arms curled around her pillow, made her heart leap within her chest. The fact that he was sleeping so soundly, he hadn’t heard her enter the house disturbed her a little. His scent was strong with mead, and she wondered if he hadn’t roused because he was drunk. She sat down on her side of the bed and combed her fingers through his hair, jolting him awake.
His eyes flew open and he gasped, but when he saw it was her, a broad smile crossed his face and he reached for her. Realizing the pillow was in his way, he tossed it aside and took her in his arms. “I missed you,” he muttered drowsily.
“I missed you, too,” she said, snuggling down next to him. “I didn’t think you’d be in bed this early.”
“Drank a bit too much and came home to sleep it off. I did that a lot while you were away, I’m afraid.” He caressed her cheek and leaned in to brush his lips against hers.
Selene returned the kiss but pulled back after a brief moment. “I want to get out of my armor and wash up. Why don’t you go back to sleep, and I’ll wake you when I come to bed.”
“What, and miss watching you bathe? Not a chance. Besides, I’ve mostly sobered up. I got you a gift.” He nodded toward the kitchen.
She went to the kitchen and gaped, surprised she hadn’t noticed it when she came in. One of the cupboards had been moved, and in its place was a brand-new bathtub already filled with water. Next to it was a dish of scented soaps, a clean washcloth, and a fluffy towel. “Oh, this is perfect!” she squealed. All she’d had previously was a shallow basin to wash in; it had been months since she’d had a proper bath.
“The water’s probably cold; I filled it yesterday. But a couple of kettles won’t take long to warm up.”
She dipped two kettles into the tub and drew out some water, then put them over the fire to heat. While she waited, she stripped out of her armor and discussed the trip with Brynjolf. “Have you heard about Vittoria Vici?” she asked him.
“Aye. Asgeir Snow-Shod and his family returned from Solitude yesterday. And you know how the guards gossip. They’re saying it was the Dark Brotherhood.”
“Well, it’s not Ulfric. At least I don’t think it is. His man in Solitude didn’t know anything about it, and he didn’t mention it when I returned to him.”
“So did you find something he could use?”
“Of course. We came away with quite a bit the Guild could use, as well. Aside from missing my husband, it was a very good trip.” She checked the water in the kettles and, deciding it was warm enough, took them off the fire and poured them into the tub, leaving some out to rinse her hair with. After stirring the water around a bit to mix the warm with the cold, she stepped in and completely immersed herself. “Oh, this is lovely,” she cooed when she emerged amid a cloud of steam, the warm water soaking in and soothing her tired, aching muscles.
Brynjolf picked up one of the soaps and dipped it into the water, then worked it into a lather. Selene closed her eyes and relaxed as he shampooed her hair, working the soap into her tresses and gently massaging her scalp, scrubbing away several days’ worth of grime. Shampooing didn’t take nearly as long as it used to, and after too short a time he dipped a cup into the kettle of rinse water and poured it through her hair. When all the soap was rinsed away, he squeezed out the excess water. He picked up the washcloth, wet and soaped it up, then worked his way from the top down, gliding the rag gingerly over her face and ears, then across her neck and back, over the scars on her shoulder and down her arms. He even took care to clean beneath her fingernails. He washed her breasts and down her abdomen, taking extra time to stroke between her legs and eliciting a pleasurable moan. When she lay back in the tub and started to squirm, he smiled slyly and ran the washcloth down her leg. Selene giggled when he washed her feet, the rag tickling between her toes. He finally rinsed her body and handed her the towel so she could dry off.
“I’m not done,” he told her. “Come into the bedroom and lie down on your stomach.”
Selene did as he instructed, and he reached in the nightstand drawer and brought out a bottle of lavender scented oil, which he proceeded to spread on her skin. Having never been pampered this way, she closed her eyes and smiled blissfully as he worked the oil into the muscles of her back, and his fingertips lingered over her bottom before traveling down and working on her legs. Selene giggled again when he rubbed her feet.
“Someone’s ticklish,” he observed with an impish grin.
“Don’t even think about it.”
He ignored her, of course, and she squealed and kicked at him as he scratched softly with his fingernails, raising goosebumps all the way up her legs. After what seemed like forever but was actually only a few seconds, he took mercy and stopped tickling her. He told her to turn over, and she did so, then he started upward with the oil. He glided over her legs and hips, past her breasts and on to her arms, where he took extra care with her rough elbows. Then his strong hands moved back to her breasts, kneading them, squeezing her nipples until they were hard and tingly.
He took one more dollop of oil and put the bottle away; then he lay down next to her and propped on one elbow while his other hand moved downward. She spread her legs as he massaged the nub between them, and she drew a quivering breath.
“Do you like that?” he asked, eyes locked with hers.
“You want me to do more?”
He shook his head. “Not yet.”
“Ah, so you’re teasing me tonight, then?”
“Just a bit.”
He leaned over and placed his mouth on hers. Selene threaded her fingers through his hair as she opened her mouth to his and gasped softly as he fondled and caressed the slit and folds for several long minutes before finally shoving two fingers inside her. Her breath caught in her throat and her heart hammered as he massaged her inner core, first gently then rougher, until delicious shivers radiated throughout her body. With one hand still firmly entangled in his hair, she grasped the covers beneath her with the other and pounded her fist on the bed.
“Are you going to scream for me, lass?” he prodded, watching her with heavily lidded eyes, his breathing shallow and uneven.
“If you…keep that up.”
Brynjolf redoubled his efforts, working his fingers in and out, and Selene could feel the wave building up within her, threatening to overwhelm her. A haze filled her mind, almost as though she were going to pass out, and she bucked her hips and cried out, riding the wave until it broke over her. Her eyes rolled back in her head, and she screamed as the spasms shot through her body. She was vaguely aware of Brynjolf saying something along the lines of, “That’s what I want to hear,” but she was too far gone to respond with anything more than incoherent babbling.
Before her climax faded completely, he untied the laces of his breeches, pulled them off, and threw them to the floor. He lay on his back and pulled her on top, and she straddled him and guided him inside. It was his turn to gasp and moan as she rode him, gyrating her hips slowly, rhythmically. His fingers rested on her hips, and his eyes locked with hers, his breath coming in shallow gasps. She moved faster as he reached up and took hold of her breast, his hands rough as he squeezed and pinched. Evidently feeling the need to take over, Brynjolf sat up abruptly and wrapped one arm around her, balancing himself with the other and pressing his mouth hard on hers. He drove into her slowly but forcefully, filling her, eliciting an ecstatic wail with every powerful thrust. He lay back and pulled her with him, his fingers digging into her bottom as he buried himself to the hilt. They clung together, swept away on a river of passion until they were both crying out at the top of their lungs as they went over the edge together.
They lay together for a long time afterward, Brynjolf still inside her, his arms around her as he rested his head on her shoulder. Selene felt light-headed, almost giddy as she turned her head and laid a soft kiss on his cheek.
“We do that very well,” she whispered, rising up to look at his handsome face.
“Aye, we certainly do,” he replied, then reached up to kiss her.
* * *
Later, as they lay together in the warmth of the furs, Selene heard a dragon howling off in the distance, and she thought of her earlier conversation with Brynjolf . When she had told him about her trip, she had left out the dream with Kynareth, planning to wait until the right time to tell him. But she figured if she wasn’t careful she would let it go too long.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“What makes you think anything’s wrong?”
“Your body tensed up. Did you hear the dragon?”
“Aye, but that’s not it.” She propped up on her elbows and looked into his eyes. “There’s something I need to tell you. I dreamt of Kynareth while I was away.”
“She said it’s time to fulfill my obligations as Dragonborn and that I need to go see Delphine. I can’t stay in town long. I need to get to her as soon as possible.”
He swallowed hard. “How long can you stay?”
“I figured a day or two. But Brynjolf, I want you to go with me. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone, whether it will be a few days or weeks. And if the World Eater is involved, who knows if I’ll come back at all?”
“Being apart from you for nearly three weeks was hard, and I wasn’t in the best of moods. I think Del and Vex would run things for a while just so they didn’t have to be subjected to that again. But I don’t know how much help I’ll be.”
“You don’t give yourself enough credit. It’s not like you slow me down or I have to worry about your safety. You can take care of yourself—and me, as well. Just having you by my side gives me strength.”
Brynjolf pulled her down to him and kissed her softly. “You don’t have to ask me twice; you know that, right? Take a couple of days to rest up, and then we’ll leave. But it’s been a long time since you left Delphine. Do you think she’ll even talk to you?”
“I don’t know,” she admitted with a shrug. “And if she does, will I even want to hear what she has to say? Did you ever meet someone that you just hated instantly? It was that way with me and Delphine. I might need you there just to make sure I don’t leave again.”
“This is Delphine at the Sleeping Giant in Riverwood, right? I don’t know if I ever told you or not, but I know her. Not well, mind you, but I’ve stayed at the inn, and she has asked the Guild for help from time to time. There’s definitely more to her than just being an innkeeper.”
“No, I don’t think you told me. Perhaps knowing her will make you even better at keeping us from fighting.”
He chuckled. “When we went to see Ulfric, you told me to behave. Now it’s my turn to tell you.”
“Aye, but I don’t do what I’m told.”
“I didn’t do what I was told, either.”
Selene glared at him. “No, you didn’t. You know Ulfric is very protective of his father’s memory. The troll comment could have escalated your little insult match to a place where you didn’t want to go.”
“I’m not afraid of Ulfric Stormcloak.”
“And yet you say you’re not a warrior. You’re not going to like hearing this, but you don’t want to fight Ulfric. You would not win.”
“Now who’s tossing out insults?” he exclaimed indignantly.
“I don’t mean to insult you, love. You’re more of a fighter than you like to admit, but Ulfric has fifteen years of experience on you, and he’s spent his life honing his skills.”
“Well I don’t think it’ll come to that anyway, but it was fun pushing his buttons.”
She smiled and rolled her eyes. “You’re impossible. Do you know that?”
“Aye, I’ve been told that before.”
* * *
It was a brisk, sunny afternoon when Selene and Brynjolf arrived in Riverwood, the type of day a Nord didn’t mind being outside. Selene did everything she could to stay outside, too. She sold a couple of items to Alvor and stayed to chat for a few minutes. She talked with Gerdur for a while. She even played a quick game of tag with Frodnar and Dorthe. Brynjolf finally grabbed her by the shoulders, turned her around, and pushed her toward the Sleeping Giant Inn.
“Come on,” he prodded her. “It’ll be painless.”
“I’m not so sure.” She had worked coming meeting with Delphine up in her mind to the point that she was actually apprehensive about entering the inn. This woman had gone through Ustengrav with the express intention of leaving her a gods-damned note; then when Selene arrived in Riverwood, she had the gall to insult her and imply that Selene wasn’t who she said she was. To top it all off, when Selene had started to leave, Delphine threatened her! This meeting had no chance of going well.
When she walked in the door, however, the sight of a blond, blue-eyed Stormcloak put her instantly at ease. Ralof sat at a table with a tankard of mead in front of him. “Hey, look who it is!” he shouted, getting up from his seat and grabbing her up in a bear hug. “How’ve you been?”
“Good,” Selene said, returning the hug. When she pulled back, she pointed to Brynjolf. “Got married. This is Brynjolf.”
“That’s great!” Ralof reached out to shake Brynjolf’s hand. “Congratulations. I’m Ralof. Selene and I are old friends.”
“Aye, you’re the one she escaped from Helgen with, right?”
“That, I am.”
“What are you doing here?” Selene asked him.
“I’m on leave. They’ve scheduled the moot for the beginning of next month, and I’m going to be in Ulfric’s personal guard. Galmar said he wanted me and the others fresh. Frankly, I’m bored here. I’d just as soon stay at my post.”
Selene looked past Ralof to see Delphine standing behind him, arms folded, staring at her. She sighed and said, “I’m afraid I have to cut this short, my friend. I’m here to see Delphine.”
“Have a drink with me if you have time when you’re done.”
“Will do.” Ralof sat back down, and Selene met eyes with Delphine, who nodded, turned, and led them through the inn and down to her secret room.
“Brynjolf, I certainly didn’t expect to see you here,” Delphine said when they were safely tucked away.
“Selene and I married recently.”
“Congratulations. So you’re ready to hear me out?”
“Go on,” Selene replied, “I’m listening.”
“I’m part of a group that’s been looking for you—well, someone like you—for a long time. If you really are Dragonborn, that is. I’m afraid I still need proof.”
“Still think I’m a Thalmor plant?”
“No, but that doesn’t mean you’re who you say you are.”
Selene glared at her, and Brynjolf put a hand out to steady her. “Selene said the Thalmor after you.”
“The Thalmor and I are very old enemies, and if my suspicions are correct, they might have something to do with the dragons returning. If they’re not responsible, they might know who is.”
Selene folded her arms and raised an eyebrow. “And the part you’re not telling me?”
“Dragons aren’t just coming back; they’re coming back to life. They weren’t gone somewhere all those years. They were dead. Now something’s happening to bring them back to life, and I need you to help me stop it.”
“Do you know how crazy that sounds?” Brynjolf remarked. “What makes you think dragons are coming back to life?”
“I know they are. I’ve visited their ancient burial mounds and found them empty. I also know where the next one will come back to life.”
“How did you figure all this out?” Selene asked.
“You should know. You got the map for me from Bleak Falls Barrow. The Dragonstone, remember? It’s a map of ancient dragon burial sites across Skyrim.”
Brynjolf pointed at the map on the table in the center of the room. “This map? You have Kynesgrove circled.”
“There’s a pretty clear pattern to the resurrections. They started in the southeast, down in the Jeralls near Riften, and have spread north from there. Kynesgrove will be next if the pattern holds. Selene, we’re going to go to Kynesgrove, and you’re going to kill that dragon.”
“Yes, ma’am!” Selene barked, snapping to attention. Brynjolf rolled his eyes. “Let’s get one thing straight, Delphine. That’s the last time you tell me what I’m going to do. Got it? I’ll help you because I think you’re right, but I won’t be taking orders from you.”
“You will if you’re smart.”
“Breathe, Selene,” Brynjolf murmured.
Fury boiled up within Selene, and even her wolf spirit perked its head up. She wanted to hit the bitch, lay her out with one punch, but it wouldn’t do anybody any good so she reined in the impulse. She wanted to leave, but that would put them right back where they started. She also wanted to set her beast form free, tear Delphine to pieces, and eat her heart; but she certainly couldn’t do that. Fine, she wouldn’t do anything rash, but she wasn’t about to let this obnoxious innkeeper threaten her again.
“Delphine, how many dragons have you killed?” The Breton didn’t answer and didn’t hold Selene’s gaze. “I think my count is thirteen now. And if you’ve been paying attention at all, you might know that I acquired a surname since we last spoke—Stormblade. I’ve killed thirteen dragons, and I helped Ulfric Stormcloak cut a swath across Skyrim and land victorious in Solitude. I’ve also spent most of the last three years fighting draugr, Falmer, vampires, you name it. If you think your lame threats are going to intimidate me, you’re sorely mistaken.”
Delphine squeezed her eyes shut, rubbed her temples, and groaned in frustration. “Selene, why can’t you understand I’m not your enemy?”
“Perhaps not, but you’re certainly not my friend. I have news for you. You may need my help, but I don’t need yours. I know where the next dragon will come to life, and I know you think the Thalmor are involved. With my contacts, I would imagine I can launch a pretty effective investigation with that information.”
Delphine looked up at Brynjolf. “Is she always this hostile?”
“No, she’s not, lass,” he said, although Delphine was years older than he was. “Perhaps you’d care to try another tactic when talking to her.”
“I am in the room,” Selene reminded them.
“Aye, and you said something about me keeping you from leaving it, remember? You are being unreasonable.”
“Now, love, don’t give me that look. You are. All right, why don’t we all just take a breather and start again? Delphine, you say you need proof that Selene’s the Dragonborn. You don’t know her and you already have trust issues, so I think that’s reasonable. You’re going to go kill that dragon anyway, Selene, right? Is there any reason Delphine can’t tag along just to ease her mind?”
“How about that it’s a four-day trip to Kynesgrove? Do you think you can keep us from strangling each other?”
“Of course, I can. Ladies, it’s simple. You can agree to help each other—that’s help each other—or the dragon threat can continue to get worse. What’ll it be?”
Selene glared at Delphine. “It’s gonna be a long trip.”